Glen Rose ISD Superintendent Wayne Rotan will present just over 100 seniors with their diplomas Friday night, right on time.
Houston Lowe is scheduled to receive his as well — although it’s 81 years after the rest of his GRHS graduating class of 1936.
Lowe — a 97-year-old former Glen Rose resident who was a prisoner of war in World War II — last visited Glen Rose seven months ago. That was when former Mayor Sam Moody made a proclamation on the steps of the Somervell County courthouse that Oct. 24 was Houston Lowe Day. Lowe, who now resides in San Antonio, also received a key to the city of Glen Rose.
Under Texas law, military veterans who served in war time are eligible to receive their high school diploma. One of Lowe’s daughters, Toni Serene, contacted Rotan after she heard about the law.
Friday’s graduation ceremony, in the GRHS Auditorium, is set to begin at 7 p.m.
Members of the GRISD’s Board of Trustees will alternate handing out the diplomas. Lowe’s will be presented first.
Serene said that five generations of the Lowe family will attend the graduation.
Rotan said that, to his knowledge, GRISD has never before presented a diploma to a war veteran under the Texas Education Code provision.
“I think it’s an honor for our district to recognize him for his service, and his contributions to the GRISD,” Rotan said.
Before Lowe made it to high school, his father died in a farming accident. He joined the Civilian Conservation Corps as a teenager, and later joined the Army Air Corps in 1940 before being taken as a prisoner of war.
Lowe suffered for 42 months in a Japanese prison camp under horrible conditions, yet survived and even re-joined the military. After his release from the prison camp, Lowe took a four-month furlough to recover. He transferred to the Army Air Corps in 1947, then got a medical release to retire in 1972.
“He always felt bad that he never got to finish high school,” said Serene, who is a school nurse in Bandera. “It’s always been very important to him.
“The circumstances of his life prevented him from finishing school. His daddy died, and all the children had to work so they could survive. I think he’s going to be very proud to get his diploma.”